A CFCnet reader who works in Fleet Street had a quiet word with Toby and I at a recent game. Not one to mince words, he simply said, “our lot is after your manager. The vultures are already circling.”
Fast forward one month and apparently the vultures are still circling. Whilst hidden behind clouds in the sky, they are there. The signs are everywhere if you know where to look.
Despite only losing one game and with Avram Grant’s team turning in some majestic performances against Valencia, Rosenborg and Man City (to name three stunning highlights), Fleet Street are reluctant to hand any credit to Grant.
This weekend’s Independent on Sunday stated that Grant “could have been discussing the funeral requirements of the recently bereaved as he reflected on Chelsea’s 70th home league game without defeat”. It went on, “we could only lament how things have changed since the Special One departed…when we were so richly rewarded with pearls of wisdom.”
This coming from the same Independent stable that employs Sports Writer of the Year, James Lawton who wrote that Mourinho was an odious, egotistical blight on the football landscape who bore all the hallmarks of a Napoleon complex.
You can’t have it both ways guys.
As for Grant, yes, he has his critics. CFCnet learned in the summer that Grant had told friends that he would be ‘the next manager of Chelsea’. As days go by it looks even more like a coup d’etat because Chelsea have hardly bothered to recruit another ‘Director of Football’. If the Club don’t need one in December, why did they need one in August? Hmmm.
More to the point, Avram’s been lucky that the players have been eminently professional and under Terry’s leadership have galvanised themselves to fight for the Club, not against it. Without the players on board, Avram would be out by now.
That said, with Steve Clarke and Henk Ten Cate providing inspired coaching, there is no question that our team is playing with more style and fluidity than under Mourinho. Just look at the new found freedom Joe Cole has got – his finish against West Ham was pure class and Joe seems to be enjoying his football once again.
In addition, Grant has retained Jose’s team solidity and we don’t have the glass jaw that Arsenal have (copyright Galatasaray in the UEFA Cup Final, Barca in the Champions League Final and Chelsea in the Carling Cup Final 2007). The Gooners might play like Brazil but what have they won? Put them up against good teams and they either draw or lose (Liverpool, Man Utd and Sevilla).
CFCuk fanzine’s latest issue has some excellent articles in support of Grant, after all he IS our manager, whilst also applauding the legend that was Mourinho. Jose we’ll always appreciate what you did for us. You are a legend.
Moving forward, the signs are promising. Grant is slowly moulding the team to get results whilst playing more flowing football; the players seem happy and so are some of the supporters. Throw in the improved atmosphere at the Shed End (thanks to the atmosphere committee) and things are looking good.
So where are the vultures? Well, they are still there. Whilst our team is winning, there is no point in dropping out of the sky to pick at Avram’s carcass. However, lose a couple of games and the vultures will get lower and lower. Stories about his wife drinking urine have already come out. More will follow.
One of our readers works for Rupert Murdoch and he told us that the News of the World already has a double page spread written about Grant. It’s a blockbuster apparently. So why isn’t it published yet? Chelsea are winning that’s why.
As soon as we lose a game or two, Fleet Street will kick us and Avram whilst we’re down. So expect an Avram Grant bombshell if we lose a few games over Christmas or New Year…